Is there a big quality difference between ammo that costs more? What I mean is if I buy ammo at Wal-Mart is it different than ammo that I might buy at a gun shop?
I've read in a number of threads that people are using practice ammo vs the ammo they would use to actually carry.
What would you recommend for practice ammo? I have a Taurus .38 Practicing with the $17.00/box stuff is getting expensive. Maybe that's just the way it is with shooting...expensive, IDK.
Is there a particular brand that is really good? What would you recommend for normal use (not practice).
There are so many different companies and it's confusing.
Generally when talking about practice ammo vs carry ammo people mean FMJ as opposed to hollow point self-defense loads (which is way more expensive). Ammo from big-name manufacturers (Winchester, Remington, etc.) is generally good stuff to use and is exactly the same whether you buy it at Wal-mart or your LGS.
Can't help you with .38 ammo choices but I am sure someone else can.
Oh, and look into buying in bulk on-line. You'll find you spend far less per round even counting shipping costs.
I'm sure the experts will show up soon, but: Ammunition sold at Walmart is exactly the same as the ammo at a regular gun shop as long as it is the same brand and type. I normally use cheaper full metal jacket (FMJ) for range time, like that which is usually readily available at Walmart. Pretty much any good quality self-defense ammo (usually defined as hollow point) should be fine as long as you ensure it feeds and shoots well from your weapon if using a semi-auto. Sounds like you have a .38 revolver so that should not be a problem for you. You are going to get various opinions as to what constitutes the "best" carry round. I suggest you take most of that with a grain of salt. Find one you trust and with which you are comfortable shooting.
P.S.: Love your tag line. Lewis has some of the best Christian writings out there.
When it comes to practice ammunition, I don't like to scrimp. Most manufactures of quality SD ammunition have some form of "budget" brand in their stable - think Cadillac and Chevrolet. I carry Speer Gold Dot and train with Speer Lawman.
There are a multitude of remanufactured rounds available as well. I usually avoid these (personal preference - not saying they are all bad) as I have experience "inconsistencies" with a few. However, many folks reload their own and save money while maintaining quality.
I practice often with fmj ammo but also run my normal carry ammo through the gun periodically. I use freedom ammunition for practice and hornady for carry. I also buy 1k rds at a time and with Freedom, it becomes more economical to practice more. That's for 9mm ammo. Not sure about 38.
I practice with Remington .38 125 gr semi jacketed hollow points. The load is L38S2, and is a ballistic match for golden sabers that i carry. But I will just start carrying th l38s2 load after I go through the golden sabers. I have shot over 10,000 rounds of the l38s2 and never had a misfire or light load.
It's about 16 bucks a box, which is about average. I don't think quality is a big issue with most big brand manufactures. Also, the l38s2 load has a very low muzzle flash, while the golden sabers are pretty bright.
The proliferation of the defensive carry options is mostly due to marketing (case in point: zombie max from hornady). Yes, the bullets are better than 25 years ago, but I'm confident in the semi jacketed hollow point.
Others will chime in and disagree, but so be it. I try to keep it simple.
I practice with Georgia-Arms reloads. $11.50/bag of 50rnds. They're at all the gun shows in my area, but you can buy them online.
I've used quite a few different brands of ammunition, but I tend to use Georgia-Arms for most of my shooting. I carry Federal Premium Hydra-Shoks as my SD round. I would probably change that to the Guard Dog if they ever make it in .357mag.
For practice in your .38 you can use just about any brand as cycling isn't a factor.
Here is a link to Ammunition to go Full Metal Jacket : Ammo To Go
nut @ 17 a box, which I take is FMJ or LRN(practice ammo) you aren't doing too bad.
Now for Defense ammo, what barrel length do you have on you Taurus?
If its under 3 in. I use Gold Dot Short Barrel .38 spl. +P 135 grain.
Or you can find some .38 158grn lswc
MagTech Sport 38 Special Ammo 158 Grain LSWC Box of 50
For practice , as well as S Defense
I have used Magtech in 9mm and has performed very well in FMJ, with all pistols running it fine, and its not all that dirty to clean up after as well.
I am impressed that you're willing to practice enough such that the cost of practice ammo is a consideration.
It's going to be tough to find .38 ammo much below about 35 cents a round, except maybe at the larger gun shows. The odd thing is that .38 used to be the cheapest stuff, with autoloader ammo being the high-priced spread - but that was before the LE moved wholesale to autoloaders. These days, 9mm is generally cheaper than .38, and the .45 I occasionally buy in bulk runs around 39 cents a round. That's just supply and demand at work - and a couple of years ago, .380 ammo was scarce and expensive because the ammo makers lagged the explosion in the popularity of the pocket .380s like the LCP and P238.
Unless you start reloading, or have a friend whose reloads can be trusted (careful, there), you really are limited to paying the going rates for commercial ammo. In concert with the other posts, yes, Wal-Mart will be about the cheapest, and small gun shops the most expensive. Occasionally Cabela's, Bass Pro or similar specialty stores have sales, but I don't recall ever getting an ammo "bargain" there. Your best defense is to buy in bulk (i.e., by the case, usually 500 rounds). Shop the on-line suppliers like ammotogo.com and ammoman.com.
For practice, the 130-grain FMJ has been my standby until I started rolling my own. Point of impact is close to my carry load, and the recoil in a snub falls between soft target wadcutters and the +P defensive loads.
The .38s used for defense here all have the "FBI" load, which is a 158 grain, semi-wadcutter hollowpoint in +P. It's a proven round in snubs as well as full-sized guns. But since the bullets are all lead with no jacket, the noses deform easily so my reloads (carried in speed loaders and speed strips) are 125-135 grain JHPs, also in +P.
Personal Defense Ammo is good brand name hollow point ammo. With modern ammo, federal, Speer, Winchester, critical defense, etc., its all good. Practice with the cheaper full metal jacket and run at least 100 rounds of the good stuff through your pistol to make sure it functions reliably. Yes, it can make a difference. I have a Kimber Warrior that will not reliably feed Speer Gold Dot. So I keep Winchester Personal Defense or Hornady Critical Defense in it. I was a police officer for 27 years and was in charge of firearms and training. I've tested ammo and seen first hand wounds. Buy and properly store as much as you can. And practice realistically and get professional training.
This is something I posted on a rifle forum but it relates here also:
High Quality ammo vs. Surplus ammo
I keep hearing folks argue we should only buy good quality (expensive) ammo for our AR and AK type rifles. This could be extended to our handguns and shotguns. We all want to use the best ammo we can afford and of good reliable quality. But let's face it, you can buy 3-4 boxes of Tula or wolf for one box of the good stuff. The Russians, Chinese, and terrorist everywhere have been killing millions for years with the cheap stuff. Once you see your rifle will run on it, buy the crap out of it. If and when things collapse around us the thug hoards trying to steal your food, water, etc. will not be concerned with your choice of quality ammunition, just your quantity. Look at NY/NJ now. Bad things happen and we shouldn't rely on the government to save us.
The only caveat is the Russian and Chinese stuff is dirtier. So buy some extra gun cleaning supplies with those massive savings you'll get and you'll be fine. And make sure it isn't corrosive.
Thank you so much for your answers! I've read each post carefully and am taking notes!
I'm pretty sure everyone know how to calculate the cost per round but in case you don't, here is the formula:
price of box of ammo divided by the number of rounds in the box = cost per round
For my 9mm target ammo, most of the time I find that the Remington UMC 250 round box is the best deal price wise (have had no issues with it either). I did find a great price at Cabela's not too long ago...they had a sale on 1000 round boxes...I think it was about a penny less per round and I was able to use a coupon which brought the price per round down even further.
I used to look for FMJ practice ammo that was the same weight as my carry ammo. I usually bought Remington/UMC, Winchester white box, Federal American Eagle, etc. Now I load my own practice ammo.